Wordless Wednesday 9/4/14 – Anemone pavonina

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My Garden this Weekend – 6th April 2013

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The Prunus flowering in my garden is always a sign that spring is most definitely here.  The arrival of the flowers is accompanied by the pollinators and there is a constant humming as you work in the garden under the tree.  In fact over the last few weekends the sound of bumble bees has been a constant soundtrack to my gardening and I am sure there are more than in previous years – maybe the milder winter temperatures has been good for them.

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The first tulips are flowering.  I think these are Purple Prince and am rather taken with them.  I like the way the petals look like crinkled silk, the colour is so iridescent.  I generally plant the bulbs out in the borders for the following year but after the experience of the badger trashing the garden the winter before last in its pursuit of the tulip bulb I am a little hesitant at doing this; something to ponder. Though looking at the photo below I think these might look good amongst the foliage of the conifers

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The weather has been grey and damp with rain showers so outside gardening was a non-starter today but I did get some tidying up and weeding done yesterday.  The small conifer planting is looking quite nice with the various muscari adding a splash of colour. I’m not sure about the geraniums here but again they will add colour until the conifers spread out.

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The original woodland border has also had a tidy up.  I have been editing the planting in here and adding taller perennials and some shrubs to the back of the border to give it some more interest – it was all too low  and tiny and bitty.  I have some other late summer perennials to add from the slope which I hope will do well in this slightly shady spot; but I have to wait for Hosta Sum and Substance to put in an appearance as I can’t remember where it is!

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As you can see my son has cracked on with pushing the stone wall back to allow space for a bench in the tiny new seating area.  Sadly it didn’t get finished due to the rain; there is so much clay in the soil that it becomes unworkable but he is getting there.  Once done I can order a load of gravel to cover the seating area and the steps leading to it.  You will notice the old tin bath in front of the shed.  I have had this a few years having bought it from a flea market.  It started life as a pond on the patio but didn’t really work; I think the location was too sunny and hot.  In recent years it has been used as a planter for various seasonal interest and it peaked last year when I filled it with masses of bargain basement tulip bulbs.  I had thought about using it for a courgette plant or two but the more I look at its new location the more the idea of reinstating the pond seems to be the way forward.  It will mean sealing up the drainage holes but we were looking for a solution to the water 2014_04060014that will  come from the guttering that is to go on the shed and I think it would look rather good feeding water to the bath pond.  It won’t matter if it overflows onto the gravel and it will be a way of oxygenating the water – she says not really knowing what she is talking about!  There will be a water-butt on the other side of the shed for the other downpipe.

Knowing that I will be ordering a load of gravel in the very near future I took the opportunity yesterday to remove the rotting wood chip from the top path.  The wood chip has been added to for several years but has rotten down so it is more or less compost and full of weeds and perennial seedlings.  The path has irritated me for a while and is one of the areas that has seen a lot of neglect over recent years while I was too busy.  I have decided to replace the wood chip with gravel.  I  know it will get weeds growing in it but I think it will look smarter and I am trying to keep the different hard landscaping material types to a minimum. The composted bark has been tipped down onto the slope for me to work into the soil.

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Due to the rain showers on Sunday I went off garden visiting but I will post about that later in the week.  I do so love this time of year, so much promise.

Posted in April, garden, gardening, My Garden, My garden this weekend, The Slope (incl Daisy Border), Woodland border | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Two nurseries and a fish lunch

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There are certain nurseries I enjoy visiting and there are certain people I enjoy buying plants with.  Today the two came together and I visited Cotswold Garden Flowers with Victoria, Rob and Darren.  I didn’t know Darren but I have known Victoria and Rob for some years.  Victoria and I went to San Francisco last summer and I worked with Rob at Chelsea a few years back. 2014_04040022All three are knowledgeable about hardy exotics which was kind of handy considering I was buying for the slope border which is to have a hardy exotic theme.  Bob’s nursery is fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone interested in plants.  The range is vast and as you can see from the top photo plants are laid out in stock beds so Bob can assess their hardiness and garden worthiness.  During our visit we were accompanied by Victoria’s dog Rufus and Bob’s chickens – luckily the two didn’t quite come face to face.

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I was particularly taken with the Euphorbia above although we couldn’t quite decide which variety it was – our suspicion is Euphorbia stygiana although the red older leaves foxed us.  We wondered if the tough growing conditions at the nursery had caused it.

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An hour’s blast down the M5 negotiating the inevitable road works too us to our lunchtime destination – The Old Passage Inn.  I had booked this on a recommendation so was a little apprehensive whether it would live up to expectations.  The restaurant is a fish restaurant and is right by the River Severn near Gloucester.  On arrival we were treated to three helicopters flying low along the river towards us – very Apocalypse Now – and landing in the field in front of the restaurant.  They were joined by a fourth and apparently it is common for guests to arrive in this way so long as they book a landing site in advance!

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Our lunch was wonderful – Wild Garlic Soup, homemade bread with seaweed flavoured butter followed by Lemon Sole with potatoes, tomatoes and capers – delish.  Sated we set off back up the road to Pan Global Plants; a nursery I have wanted to visit for some time. My keenness had grown after reading the owner, Nick Macer’s, article in one of the glossies about hardy exotics and how you can create an exotic looking garden or border without having to resort to tender plants and the need to overwinter them under cover.

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Nick is just beginning to bring his stock out from the protection of the poly tunnels and I was so busy admiring plants and being educated by the others that I  forgot to take any photographs nor did I take any of our full plant trolleys just before we paid.  So you will have to take my word that this nursery is well worth a visit if you are interested in something a little unusual, some with interesting foliage or an unusual flower – really just the not the run of the mill plants.   I could have spent a fortune here so had to keep reminding myself that  my garden is small and not acres and no the rhododendron grande was not suitable for my garden no matter how in love I was with it – even Nick told me I couldn’t have it.  The red leaved Euphorbia put in another appearance although a little different. Nick and I concluded that Bob’s plant was possibly a Euphorbia pasteurii and as his growing conditions were tougher than Nick’s this may have resulted in the red leaves.  Anyway, having already bought Euphorbia pasteurii Phrampton Phatty from  Nick earlier in the year I bought Euphorbia stygiana – I am hoping one of them will produce the older red leaves this time next year.

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So here is my haul – it doesn’t look that much here on my patio but I am very excited to  see how they will come together in the new border, although the Aloe striatula is for the hardy succulent border in the front garden.  For those of you curious to know what I bought here is the list:

Aloe striatula
Tetraapanax papyrifera ‘Rex’
Impatiens stenantha
Onoclea sensibilis copper form
Ajuga incuse frosted jade
Polysticum setiferium ‘Plumosum-Bevis’
Asarum splendens
Fatsia ‘Spiderweb’
Euphorbia stygiana
Buddleja salviafolia

I think I may have to avoid plant buying opportunities for a while until I clear the patio of the last  month’s acquisitions but what a wonderful way to spend the day.

 

 

Posted in April, Foilage, gardening, Perennials, Plants, Shopping, Shrubs | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Product Review – B&Q easyGrow

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Now you may be wondering what I am doing showing you a photograph of a tea-bag and this would be a good question.  However, it is not a teabag in the sense you are thinking but a plant in a kind of teabag!  Trust me it will make sense in a moment.

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B&Q invited me to review some plants from their new easyGrow range.  They have been working on developing a way of packaging bedding plants that does away with the polystyrene trays.  As we all know landfill is full of these trays and other plastic pots that are used to transport the plants we fill our  gardens with.  B&Q’s solution is to wrap the plant roots in a small bag – like a tea-bag and then pack the plants into a plastic tray which is recyclable.  The ‘tea-bag’ are biodegradable so will break down in the soil of their own accord.

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I received a tray of begonias, which had suffered a little in the post, but when I removed the damaged leaves looked like they would be good and strong plants.  I have planted them up in a pot to provide some summer interest on the patio.  You don’t have to do anything to the plants except plant them in the soil as you normally would and then give them a good soak.  I did find it a little strange handling the plants but I think it was all in my mind.  I am used to pulling bedding plants out of the polystyrene trays and planting them firmly in pots and baskets but for some reason I found myself handling the begonias as though they were going to break.  It may have been because they had suffered some damage in transit or it might have been that it just seemed strange.  However, when you think about it these ‘tea-bag’ rooted plants are no different to when you grow a plant in a jiffy pot which you have rehydrated.

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I like the idea behind this range but I do wonder if the tray that the plug plants are in is robust enough to keep them protected during transport from the store. With the polystyrene trays the plants are firmly held in the tray, if the tray hasn’t been allowed to dry out completely, but the easyGrow plants whilst packed into the green tray have a tendency to move around.

You can learn more by watching this Youtube video

However, it is good to see that B&Q are trying to address this problem and I think that gardeners, especially those who are concerned about the amount of trays and pots they send to landfill, will welcome this product.

Posted in garden, Product Testing, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Wordless Wednesday 2/4/14 – Chaenomeles japonica

Chaenomeles japonica

Chaenomeles japonica

Posted in April, garden, Photography, Shrubs, Spring, Uncategorized, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

End of Month View – March 2014

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I have decided to include the view from my living room window as the opening of the End of Month View post.  As you can see Spring as arrived with daffodils, hellebores and young growth of the willow tree.

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The staging is looking a little quieter this month. The irises and crocus have gone over and are being replaced by narcissus and tulips.  As the bulbs go over they are beginning to be moved off the staging to rest somewhere else and will probably be replaced with succulents.  I have followed the advice given last month and purchased a Trachelospermum jasminoides to cover the trellis.

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Small but physically challenging progress has been made on the front border with the old glazed sink being put into place.  I now need to patch up the render on it.  It was originally done by my Dad for my Mum and has started to fall off so hopefully over the next few weeks I shall be playing with concrete etc.  Once this is done the sink will be used for succulents such as sempervivums.  I am planning to also have them around the base of the sink and supplement these with some hardy exotics such as hardy varieties of agave or aloe.

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The former Bog Garden now the Camellia border is beginning to show signs of life.  I have planted some Iris siberica in here from elsewhere in the garden and they are looking lovely and fresh.  There are signs that the astilbe and ferns will also be putting in an appearance soon.  Hopefully this time next month there will be less earth showing.

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The Spring/Patio border has lost its white drift of snowdrops and the bluebells are only just beginning to produce flower spikes. I have thinned the snowdrops, although probably not as much as I should have, and spread them down to the other end of the border. I have also added an Edgeworthia to the greenhouse end which is little more than a stick at the moment but I am hopeful that the foliage will add to the lush summer effect I am aiming for.

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Finally the Cottage Border which is along the top of the wall you can see in the top photograph.  I think this is my favourite part of the garden especially at this time of year. The narcissus are starting to flower, they are mainly Narcissus Cheerfulness which has a lovely scent.  I have tried to limit the range of plants in this border, an approach I am trying to adopt more and more to create a sort of matrix effect albeit on a small-scale.  As well as roses there are delphiniums, aquilegia and geraniums in this border so the theme is early summer.  I took Yvonne’s advice last month and rethought the bay standard as she was right it will probably sucker.  Instead I have added a small obelisk which needed a home and the clematis which was growing along the trellis behind the staging but is deciduous and not fulfilling the role that is needed.  The step over apples along the top of the wall are beginning to leaf up and I am looking forward to blossom in the next month or so.

That is the garden at the end of March which has been a kinder and drier month than its predecessors.  Now that the clocks have gone forward an hour I am hoping to get the odd hour of gardening in after work in the evenings and hopefully in April it will be even more evident that the season is progressing.

Anyone is welcome to join in with the End of Month View and to use it in their own way.  It would be great though if you could link to this post in yours and also leave a link to your post in the comment box below so we can find you.

Posted in Cottage Garden Border, End of month view, Front garden, March, The Patio/Spring Border, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 28 Comments

My Garden this Weekend – 30th March

Ranunculus 'Brazen Hussey'

Ranunculus ‘Brazen Hussey’

Another lovely weekend and this time a three-day one as I had some time due to me.  I started clearing the slope on Friday although the rain stopped play after an hour.  I am moving the asters and grasses and a few other bits from the slope to the Big Border.  I want to plant up the slope with hardy exotics aiming for a jungley sort of look. I have the overall effect in my head but am still working on the possible plants to include plus we 2014_03300006logoneed to cut back the slope to allow for a bench.

Saturday was the monthly HPS meeting.  Always a good day and despite my initial reservations when I first joined at spending a whole day of my precious weekend at the meeting I really enjoy it and rarely don’t stay for the whole day.  This month’s talk was on cut and come again perennials which was interesting. Our speaker, a local nursery woman, showcases a whole range of perennials which I would never have thought of cutting including solomons seal as well as old favourite such as asters and aquilegia.  The morning discussion or show

Muscari latifolium

Muscari latifolium

and tell featured a collection of heritage daffodils, various alpines, a Melianthus major flower and to the amazement of everyone an Aeonium Schwarzkopf in flower – I really should have taken my camera.  Needless to say I came home with some plants a veratrum  for the woodland border and also two small aeoniums which are destined for the succulent border in the front garden.

Today I was outside at 9 setting to.  I started off with finishing off re-potting some alpines, mainly primulas, which I am hoping might be up to showing in the novice section of an Alpine Garden Society over the next month.  Then I relocated some plants to the cottage border and also the woodland border which really is beginning to have the right feel about it finally – its only taken 3 years.

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The next big job was to finish clearing the plants I wanted from the edge of the slope as we want to push the wall back to make way for the bench.  This involved relocated a number of Camassia to the Big Border. Hardly, the ideal time of year to do this but I had to do the same last year but with different Camassia and they did OK.  As you can see the Big

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Border is filling up and I am hopeful that the image I have in my mind will come to fruition.  Aside from the shrubs and a couple of structural perennials such as the

Corydalis solida

Corydalis solida

Melianthus the main plants are asters and Calamgrostis overdam which I am hoping will link the Stipa gigantea in to the border.  I have spread the Camassia through the border in between the perennials as I read or heard somewhere recently that tall late summer perennials were a good way of hiding the dying Camassia foliage.

Having completed the required plant moving I started to dig out the dry stone wall.  I have to admit that I was running out of steam by this time but thankfully my eldest son came to my rescue.  Any excuse to wield his pickaxe.  The stones making up the wall were soon removed and he has dug quite a way back into the slope ready for the wall to be rebuilt and a seating area made.   As we worked I could start to see how the planting on the slope could work to create a good jungley effect.  I am going plant buying at the end of the week with some friends to Pan Global Plants and Cotswold Garden Flowers so I think this will give me the opportunity to get the main structural components I want.

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Oh and we also moved the sink trough into the succulent border in the front garden but I will save that for the End of Month View post tomorrow.

Narcissus 'Sophies Choice'

Narcissus ‘Sophies Choice’

 

Posted in Big border, gardening, March, Months, My Garden, My garden this weekend, The Slope (incl Daisy Border) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments